Dealing With Princes

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          By the end of the week, there were a total of 8 princes. 

Prince Domnar from Cubed had arrived as she returned from her ride that second day after her parents left.  The next day Prince Nynfu from TTR had arrived. 

No new princes arrived the day after that, and Princess Atamar had breathed a quiet sigh of relief.  However, the next day Prince Yingnano from Phase10 and Prince Chitpeat from TDE arrived.  That evening, Atamar managed to get a few moments alone with her uncle. 

    "Uncle Ulap, how many more princes are there?"

    Uncle Ulap looked thoughtful as he spoke.  "Actually, there is only one other prince that I think will come, and I would have expected him to arrive first.  I have actually been wondering where he is.  Signs is our closest ally.  I am very surprised that Prince Crenip is not here yet." 

Atamar gave a sigh of relief.  "I'm glad there is only one more.  I don't know how much more of this I can take."

Uncle Ulap laughed and tousled her hair as he used to do when she was a little girl.  "Don't know what to do with so much attention, huh?  They are buzzing around you like bees around a flower.  Why don't we figure out a way to give you some space?" 

Thanks to their planning, things soon began to fall into a schedule.  She had the morning to herself, although any time they saw her, the princes would flock around her. 

While she was in her morning classes, the princes spent part of the time practicing swordplay, archery, and other such pursuits. 

She and the other girls would sometimes sit at the palace windows to watch during their embroidery lesson.  After lunch, she would go riding, and all 8 princes would accompany her. 

Sometimes she would ride Trewa.  Sometimes she would ride one of the palace horses to make conversation easier.  Upon their return, they would often retire to the reception room to relax and talk until dinner. 

After dinner, she would take a walk through the palace gardens accompanied by her 8 escorts.  After her walk, Uncle Ulap would rescue her by asking the young men to come with him for a while. 

She could tell that they wanted to refuse, but they knew they couldn't.  During the hour that Uncle Ulap spent with them, she had her nightly maze meeting. 

She continued her studies, but she also spent some time finding out what the others had learned about the princes.  Since many of the boys were working on refining their weaponry skills with the princes, they had lots of insights to share. 

The girls did not have as much opportunity to get to know the princes, so at first their comments were mostly about their looks.  After the maze meeting, she would return to the reception area to play games until time to retire. 

The second night after the princes began arriving, she had spoken to Hamori when they arrived at her suite of rooms for the night.  "Hamori, we have an agreement that has worked well for both of us for many years." 

Hamori nodded silently letting her continue.  "I would like to amend that agreement slightly."  Hamori simply raised his eyebrows in question.  "When it comes to the princes, I would like more guarding and less space.  Do you understand?" 

She watched his face carefully and thought she saw a hint of a smile around his lips and a look of respect in his eyes.  But all he said was, "Yes Princess.  I will make the change." 

Hamori was true to his word.  When the princes were around, Hamori and the other guards were always at her elbow.  When the princes were elsewhere, they kept their distance as before. 

Atamar wasn't sure why she felt safer this way.  After all, she was never alone with any of them since they all constantly swarmed around her as soon as she showed her face. 

However, by the end of the second week, the princes seemed to realize this and complained.  She smiled sweetly and said, "That's not my fault.  If you want time alone with me, you'll have to work it out amongst yourselves." 

The next day as they were finishing lunch, Prince Nynfu spoke up.  "We have come to an arrangement.  In the afternoon, instead of all of us going with you everywhere, we would like to each have 30 minutes alone with you so that you can get to know us better. 

We will plan the activity so that you don't have to, and we will work it out between us so that you won't spend 4 hours riding or anything like that.  Is this acceptable, Princess Atamar?  If so, we have already worked out today's plans, and I will be spending 30 minutes with you first." 

Atamar wasn't sure which was worse: to be bombarded by all 8 at once or having to spend time alone with them, but she merely smiled and said, "It is acceptable."...

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